Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Educational Transformation: The Beginning of the Beginning

Last week the first steps were taken to begin the process of transforming teaching and learning in Iowa. This new direction has the potential to impact not only Iowa, but the entire world. New thinking and relationships are emerging. All very COOL!

The Dialogue Begins
On Tuesday (1/26/10), Van Meter participated in a roundtable video discussion with two other central Iowa Superintendents of School. One superintendent serves an affluent suburb and the other, represents Iowa’s largest school district. In this hour long exchange of thought, facilitated by the Des Moines Register Editorial writer, Linda Fandel, it is easy to see the perspective of the three districts. The affluent suburb spoke of business partnerships, relationships with CEO’s, and focus on college preparation, announcing a new relationship with the University of Northern Iowa on air. Iowa’s largest school district superintendent spoke of the challenges of student’s ethnicity and poverty, sharing the district belief not only to educate but to provide child supervision from ”6:00am to 6:00pm.” Van Meter spoke of finding children’s passions and empowering students in a relevant modality to THINK, LEAD, and SERVE. The “take away” from all this…what is the mission of education in Iowa? Prepare for college? Provide social services? Empower kids to “THINK, LEAD, and SERVE?

#vanmeter goes to Capitol Hill
Thursday (1/28/10) Van Meter students showed the Iowa House/Senate Committee on Education Appropriations and a "standing room only" crowd that the world had changed. Van Meter Secondary Principal Deron Durflinger and I watched as “typical” Van Meter students took center stage and demonstrated to lawmakers what 21st century leaning and relationships look like. All were left speechless. Many of you were there, watching through the live streaming and participating on Twitter. I observed legislators following with their eyes, the LCD projection of the Twitter backchannel of “shout outs” all around the World! Afterwards, many legislators commented to me that they were truly amazed.

The "tipping point?"
Sandra Dop, from the Iowa Department of Education, stated that she had “witnessed history today”. In her blog, Next Generation Schools, she shared, “I sat there thinking that one day we may be able to point back to January 28, 2010, and say it was the turning point—the day a couple seventh graders and a fifth grader swayed the Iowa legislature and forever changed education as we know it. I know, the high schoolers were impressive too, but those representatives and senators nearly fell off their chairs when their superintendent John Carver said “fifth grader.” When the legislators asked, “So what can we do to get out of your way and let you go?” I nearly cried.”

Stay Tuned!
Through #vanmeter, online and onsite, we all are connecting and learning. Size of school district, economic condition, “labels” and location in the World, old barriers to learning, are quickly fading away. “Welcome to the future

Together we are making this happen. Your participation and continued support is creating energy and a force that is reshaping and transforming current education into a system that empowers students to THINK, LEAD, and SERVE.

You can watch the "Transforming Education" clips of the January 28, 2010 presentation at the capital on Deron Durflinger's Justin.TV channel.

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